Saturday, February 21, 2015

Investigation of Herbal Supplements Results in Recalls

Editor's Note:  I've had a lot of emails telling me of the recent investigation by the New York Governor, so I decided to finally put out a blog post on it.  It's very sad to see people waste their hard-earned money and have to wonder whether they got what they thought they were paying for.  Labeling laws have few requirements .... maybe that will change after this investigation.

Quality is not a common theme in the supplements industry.  We've been in it for 33 years and have seen a lot of brands come and go.  We've stayed with the brand we began with because as time passed by, we saw more and more problems with the alternatives ... generally reported by our customers at the shop when they decided to try a cheaper brand of what they were using.

We have always focused on quality and tried to educate our customers, but most folks think we're just making a sales pitch.  Hey!  I admit I would think the same way.  There are few companies out there that test their raw materials or even know if the right species and part of the plant has been harvested and whether it was harvested at the proper time, and even fewer that manufacture to pharmaceutical standards.

Watch this video to know what you need to look for while you're choosing your brand of health supplements.  Low prices indicate low cost ingredients so you do not get the potency on the bottle, nor are you assured that the ingredients are not contaminated with heavy metals, radiation, etc. Learn what you should look for when reading a product label.

In the News: An investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office into store-brand supplements has found that many herbal supplements not only contain arguably no herbs, but also don’t contain the main ingredient/herb advertised.

Here are some of the bullet-point findings of the investigation:
• Most of the supplements contained phony fillers.

• Many of the supplements contained unlisted allergens. Five of the 24 products tested contained unlisted wheat, and 2 contained unlisted beans — both of which are known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

• Some of the supplements didn’t even contain the herb advertised. All but 5 of the 24 products tested contained DNA that was either unrecognizable or from a plant other than what the product claimed to be.

• None of Walmart’s 6 supplements tested were found to contain purely the ingredient advertised.

• Tests on 6 of the Target brand’s products resulted in only one unqualified positive.

The investigation targeted 4 national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, each of which received cease-and-desist letters demanding that a number of their supplements be taken off the market.  Read the entire article.

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Using Cornmeal To Kill Weeds and Ants

Cornmeal gluten is the by-product of corn wet milling. It is used to feed cattle, fish, dogs, and poultry. Cornmeal is known as a natural substitute for chemical pre-emergent herbicides.

Using cornmeal as weed killer is a great way to eradicate weeds without the threat of toxic chemicals. Iowa State University discovered by accident that cornmeal acts as an herbicide while they were doing disease research. They saw that cornmeal kept grass and other seeds, such as crabgrass, dandelions and chickweed, from sprouting.

NOTE: It is important to note that cornmeal is only effective against seeds, not plants that are mature.This also means you need to get it down BEFORE the seeds sprout, so we're going to spread it here in Central Virginia the first week of March.

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The First Law of Love and Relationships

The First Law of Communication: Do Unto Others
by Dr. Jim Richards, Impact Ministries

The Golden Rule isn’t just the first law of communication; according to Jesus it’s the first law of love and relationships between mankind (Matt. 19:19). Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These are not Jesus’ exact words, but this has become known as ‘The Golden Rule.’ Nearly everyone can quote it; yet, ironically, the way we interpret it usually produces the exact opposite of its intention.

Our tendency in communication of any kind is to ‘do’ toward others exactly how we want someone to ‘do’ toward us. For example, the ‘direct’ communicator wants the straightforward, ‘bottom line,’ 'get to the point' kind of communication. He/she appreciates and values this type of communication and when they don’t receive it they often feel manipulated or they just stop listening.

The person who wants indirect, more ‘personal’ communication is offended and feels controlled by the “get to the point” communicator. They view them as rude and inconsiderate.

The irony is that both people are communicating the way they would prefer someone communicate with them, because their intention is to be polite and courteous. After all, if I value and respect ‘straightforward’ communication then surely everyone else does as well. And the indirect communicator reasons it is only good manners to be personable before we get down to business.

What we do for people and how we do it are two very different things. And as the old adage goes, “It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it!” The real message we send to others isn’t based on what we do as much as it is how we do what we do! Our tendency isn’t to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; it’s do unto others how I do unto them.

Let me explain. We all want the same things. We want to be loved, appreciated, rewarded, and encouraged… you get the picture! There are usually people in our lives who are offering us these very things, yet we often fail to recognize it! Why? They express those things the way they want people to express it to them instead of the way we want it expressed to us. Then we do the same thing to them and both parties feel unloved because they aren’t experiencing love from the other person’s efforts, and both parties feel unappreciated because their efforts are not being received.

I have to say it again: “It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it.” Proverbs tells us the words of the wise are like apples of gold in settings of silver. In other words, they are attractive to the hearer. Since every hearer has different tastes, we should make sure we know what they like before we attempt to express ourselves. Here are a couple of examples:

Expressing love: In recent years there has been a lot of needed emphasis on love languages. The concept of love languages is that there are different actions that make people feel loved. Most people assume that what makes them feel loved is what ‘should’ make everyone else feel loved. So we do to or for them how we would want them to do for us. Then when it doesn’t have the desired effect we’re offended. When this scenario plays out enough times in our life we stop attempting to express love; after all, (we think) it isn’t appreciated.
Amazingly, our loved ones do the same thing to us. They attempt to show us love in some way that is meaningful to them but means nothing to us. Too often we even express how ridiculous it is for them to show love the way they do. No wonder so many relationships sink into the mire of incompatible existence!

People don’t hear what you say, they hear what they hear. For much of my early life as a father and an employer I mistakenly thought I was great at communicating what I wanted. I had so much frustration after giving what (I thought) were perfectly clear requests and guidelines, only to discover that people didn’t do what I asked.

I could write volumes about the gap between what we say and what others hear, but for now it should be enough to accept it as reality. It has nothing to do with lack of intelligence or any dysfunction that we always blame on the other person. Different people need different types of instructions in order to understand their role in a task. Some people need the goals and the big picture. In other words, they want to know WHY you want it done. Some need to know HOW you want it done. Some people want the deadlines and all the rules and others just want general guidelines and then to be left alone to accomplish the task.

Most of our communication is designed to satisfy ourselves instead of to be effective. The list of ways and places we communicate to satisfy ourselves is long. The pain that comes into our lives, the lack of productivity in the work place, and the seemingly endless flow of frustration this behavior produces feels unending. Sadly we assume it’s too complex for the average person to ever sort out. But trust me, it isn’t that complex and the rewards far outweigh the effort it takes to close these communication gaps.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” Most of us have worked hard at effective communication but we’ve worked hard at the wrong thing. We just tried harder at what wasn’t working until many of us reached a place of shutting down, giving up, or otherwise just no longer being willing to try. Here are a few tips to start getting the response you desire from your communication:

Ask a lot of questions: Never assume ANYONE understands what you mean, always ask. And don’t just ask for a “yes” or a “no;” ask them to explain what you want and how it should be done. If it involves your personal relationship always ask them, “What will make you feel loved?” or “What would you prefer?” or “Is there something you would rather I do?”

Be a safe person: Don’t make it painful for people to tell you what you don’t know or what you may not want to hear!

Don’t show frustration; it’s condescending and causes people to stop communicating.

Don‘t belittle what they need to feel loved or to understand what you want. You’re implying there’s something flawed about them.

If you’re the one attempting to communicate accept the responsibility to be sure they understand!

Never argue with the answer to your questions. They’re giving you the information you need whether you like it or not. Be willing to learn from the harshest criticism.

Never make people feel they should value what you value or they should communicate the way you communicate.

And in the words of Stephen Covey, “Always seek to understand before seeking to be understood!”

We do everything we do because we think it’s the right way to do it. No one does anything because they think it will be ineffective or cause failure. There is a way that seems right. The way we do things may be right for us but that doesn’t mean it’s right for anyone else.

I want to open your world to a whole new dimension of communication and ways of expressing love. Along with the series, Secret Signals, you will also receive a free download of Speaking and Listening: The Art of Communication and a list of Scriptures for wisdom in communication.  (Watch the informational video to hear more about this and what is included free with every order.)

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Video: Tips for Improving Kitty Behavior

Video: Tips for Improving Kitty Behavior
by Dr. Sarah

All sorts of bad feline behavior can stem from home-environment causes. And that’s a good thing, because it’s possible to make changes fairly easily.

If your kitty is displaying symptoms of a behavioral disorder - from unexpected aggression to failure to use the litter box – the solution could be as simple as making improvements to your cat's surroundings.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah shares her surprisingly simple tips that you can implement at home, to help your feline feel purringly content. Watch this episode of Pet Talk now

7 Natural Teeth Whitening Home Remedies


No one wants a yellow smile, but if you’ve paid attention over the last several years, smiles have gotten whiter and whiter. It’s not completely unusual these days to see a celebrity, newscaster, or other person overly-concerned with their appearance, to have teeth so white it’s completely distracting.

Do you want a smile that “lights up the room”? No matter how white you want your teeth, there are plenty of natural teeth whitening home remedies for a beautiful smile. What’s more, teeth whitening at home is super easy.

Teeth discoloration is part of the aging process. But just like wrinkles, many people fight it. While you can expect your teeth to change a little over the years, there are things you can do to avoid stains and embarrassing discoloration—and fortunately, these natural teeth whitening home remedies solutions don’t require hundred dollar bleaching trays, dentist visits, or unknown chemical solutions.  Read the entire article.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 2/14/15

View on Website.

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 2/15/15 
  by Donna L. Watkins  

"When we direct our thoughts, we can control our emotions." 
~ W. Clement Stone

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Hello Dear Friends!

Holidays - I'm sending this out a day early so I can say "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!"
I found this article titled, "God's Valentine Promises to Us."  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I've always loved this day, although growing up I'm sure it was because it was a candy holiday and chocolate candy at that!  My Daddy would bring home a big box of chocolates for my mom and me.  I thought those huge boxes with a pretty ribbon and all looked so beautiful.  What was inside couldn't be beat though. 

Those were the days of my growing chocolate addiction, which I struggled with until November 1998 when I got delivered.  I'm not saying chocolate is a bad thing ... it has some nutritional properties ... but for me, it was something that had control over me and I didn't like that feeling.  I'd get off of it for a year and then blow it while on a trip deciding to have "one chocolate dessert" and Bam!  Just like an alcoholic, I was back to daily consumption.  My flesh never had enough of it. 

Don't Give Up!
I had a talk with God one day and vowed that I would not eat chocolate again if He would take away the craving.  I'd prayed many times before over this issue, but I felt this time was different.  I was willing to trust Him to do this and I believed it would happen.  Don't give up hope when you are facing a battle of any kind.  God is always there for you, but it's really us that is the block to emotional or physical healing - it's our faith that will carry us through and we get that faith by God's grace within us.

My end of the deal was that physiologically I knew my body wouldn't stop the cravings instantly, so I had my part in this deliverance to say "No!" when I saw it and I calculated it would be a couple of weeks to change my heart. 

It was.  The cravings were gone and I've never had a problem since.  It amazed me that I could look at a display case of all things chocolate and not have a desire for it.  I would remember sweet memories of partaking, but they always quickly ended with a visual of how sick I would get eating "the whole thing" and how wonderful it was not to be controlled by my flesh.  Hallelujah!

View Enlarged Image 
Bald Eagle 
View More Eagle Photos
Birds - Don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count has begun.  You can count any day or multiple days through Monday, February 16th.  More than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined in for this event that creates an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. Participate!  It's a lot of fun.  You tally the numbers and types of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.  If you’re new to the count, visit this Get Started area of the website.

The first Bald Eagle we ever saw on our acre property arrived during the last 5 minutes of my bird count one year.  How awesome that was!  I was so excited to be able to report it.

Since our backyard and beyond is wooded, we have a variety of woodpeckers.  The Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Pileated and also the Northern Flicker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which are both a part of the woodpecker family. 

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker arrived later this year.  He's pretty much finished the drilling around the plants that are close to the house, so he may have some other favorite location this year that he's resided near and I've just not seen him till a couple of weeks ago.

My favorite sight is to see the Pileated on one of the suet feeders.  They're more than twice the size of the feeder, but don't mind spinning a bit to get that good high-energy food.  View Video of Pileated Woodpecker on Suet FeederView More Woodpecker Photos.

Health - The GMO issue has certainly escalated in America.  There is now an open letter endorsed by more than 60 million people (at the time of this writing) asking both US and UK officials to be more prudent in questioning the hazards of genetically modified crops.  It isn’t a small minority anymore asking our regulators to limit biotech’s far-reaching power. Verified GMO-free food sales were $3 billion in 2013 and $8.5 billion in 2014!  Organic food sales overall are projected to grow another 14% by 2018, and this is a modest estimate.

This is no surprise, as the term ‘non-GMO’ was expected to surpass even ‘organic’ as a buzz word in 2014 when it came to food sales. One study by Progressive Grocer showed that consumers want Non-GMO now even more than ‘organic.’ A staggering 80% of consumers sought out non-GMO products in their survey. The non-GMO issue has emerged as a consumer hot-button.  One example of how consumers are demanding change can be seen in that non-GMO Project Verified foods have more than doubled since 2013.

You can add your own endorsement (signature) to the letter.  The open letter is signed by celebrities, scientists, farmers, academics in various fields, business tycoons, and every day people like you and me. It’s called the letter from America, but it is getting global attention. We are clearly voicing our disdain for GM crops in ever growing numbers.  I

n our country, GM crops account for about half of harvested cropland. Around 94% of the soy, 93% of corn (maize) and 96% of cotton grown is GM. (Source: USDA)  Read the letter and add your signature here.

Until then .... don't forget to pray over your meals and bless them with health and vitality and cancel any toxic effects from it.  God didn't leave us helpless in this generation or any other.  It's our faith that will carry us through.  God is for us, not against us, and is certainly wanting to "fill our mouths with good things" (Psalm 103:5), so blessing your food is a great habit to start if you haven't already done so.  It also gives everybody at the table a few moments to settle down and relax before putting food into stomachs.

Where does that leave you if you happen to be one of those finicky eaters who values your immune and reproductive systems, and don't want your kids to end up with the organ damage common among GMO-fed lab animals?  Go to and peruse the long lists of non-GMO and GMO brands by category. Download a two-page version, order the pocket guide, or even equip your iPhone with the new app "ShopNoGMO".

Simple Tips - is an online, family-owned business, used book buying service.  Their website says they are committed to providing a simple, secure, and convenient way for anyone to sell books and textbooks with confidence and receive instant price quotes, fast payment, and exceptional customer service.  A reliable and trusted buyer of quality used books since 2004.   They have purchased over 2 million books from 350,000 customers.  They primarily offer their services to students selling used college textbooks, but have also purchased hardcover/paperback fiction and non-fiction.  It doesn't hurt to plug in a few ISBNs to check and see.  If you're interested in buying quality used books and textbooks, use this link.

Spiritual - Remember the story of the disciples trying to cast a demon in a boy that the Father had brought to them?  Jesus was up on the mountain with three of the disciples, but the rest were down in the valley doing what Jesus normally did.  However, they didn't get the job done in this particular case. 

The Scripture says, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:19-20)

Dr. Jim Richards had some thoughts on this that I found rather enlightening after studying them out:  "Jesus said we only needed faith the size of a mustard seed and we could do the miraculous. Unlike the religious leaders of the day, Jesus knew the greatest changes happened at the quantum level ... the smallest level. A change in attitude can bring more sweeping change than the change of one hundred actions. A simple change in a thought can turn the tide of any situation. The greatest power is expressed from the smallest factor.

Elijah looked for God in the fire, in the wind and in the earthquake. But He wasn't found in any of those places. He was found in the still, small voice. Some of the greatest changes in your life will come from some of the most subtle adjustments. Some of the greatest discoveries will be heard in the still, small voice. Your time of daily stillness, peace and reflection is the best time for you to hear that still, small voice.

As a young boy, playing in the hills of Tennessee, I would toss a small pebble into the still, smooth pond. I was amazed at how one pebble could make so many ripples. And they were each distinct and noticeable. As a young man I stood on the shores of the ocean. When I tossed in a large stone, the ripples were indiscernible among the tumultuous waves. And such is our lives.

The life that is filled with chaos, with no time for stillness, never notices the obstacles that are thrown into the equation of life until it has grown into a full-blown disaster.  As you wait quietly before the Lord, like that still pond you will notice the slightest ripple.  You will take action when problems are small.  You will never need more than a mustard seed faith to move the largest mountain when it is only a ripple."

I love the image of the still pond relating to God's still small voice.  He longs for relationship with us.  He loves us beyond what we can ever imagine.  The more time you spend with Him, the more you will fall in love with Him too. 

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Spring Daffodils
Glencairn Gardens, Rock Hill, SC
Winter has gone by so quickly this year.  Funny .... that has never happened before, but this year I changed my attitude and decided I was going to enjoy Winter, or at least have no bad comments or thoughts about it.  It's incredible that my attitude change has given me a whole new perspective.  Our thoughts truly do create our surroundings.

Have a fabulous February in the last half of the month.  It will soon be March.  Think daffodils.

View Enlarged Photo
Donna at Monticello
 Home of Thomas Jefferson
Charlottesville, VA
View Photos of Monticello
Until next time ..... 

May God Increase Your Blessings Daily,


P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter. Click on it and on the left sidebar there will be an option to share in various ways. The top one is to email it to somebody.  

If you simply want to copy and paste the link into an email, here it is:

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Copyright and Reprint Information - All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, Articles written by Donna L. Watkins may also be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

10-Minute IQ Test for Dogs - Video

The 10-Minute IQ Test for Dogs
Video by Dr. Sarah

Is your pup keen to show off his brain power? Have you always known your canine is sharp as a tack, but were unsure how to test just how ‘on the ball’ he is?

In this fun episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah reveals how easy it is to assess your pup’s problem-solving abilities. You’ll have the results of this informal test in only 10 minutes, but really … it’s all about the fun. Be sure to download our free scoring sheet to record and share your dog’s IQ.  Watch the video now!